Navigating Tensions: Pragmatism vs. Ideology at COP10's Midpoint

COP 10 - Day 3 Proceedings

COP10 reached its halfway stage, with an interesting tension developing between two trends - some at COP10 arguing for more (unproven) extreme tobacco control measures, such as denicotinisation, filter prohibition and tobacco generational bans. Another group of pragmatists were arguing for a more thoughtful examination of harm reduction strategies already employed by several of the FCTC parties, such as Sweden, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Article 1(d) of the FCTC clearly identifies "harm reduction strategies" as part of tobacco control, yet this potential tool has never been elaborated or debated during the 19 years of the FCTC's existence. There is compelling real-world data and real-world science available in Sweden to show how smoking prevalence decreased to 5,6%. In Japan, 30-50 % of cigarette smokers have either partially or fully switched to non-combustible heated tobacco products in less than 5 years. New Zealand and the United Kingdom have recognised ENDS as tools for smoking cessation and are increasingly showing the net public health benefits of this strategy, to prevent and control tobacco-related disease, disability and premature death.

If this debate is evolving towards harm reduction-friendly pragmatists and extreme tobacco control ideologues, then the voices of the multitude of stakeholders on the sideline should also be taken into account. The United Nations clearly states that tobacco-related non-communicable diseases can only successfully be prevented and controlled by multi-stakeholder engagement and multi-sector action. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society solutions are the only way. Hopefully, the COP10 delegates will understand the gravity of their responsibility.

Key Takeaways from Day 3:

  • The Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (GATC) moderated a session highlighting proactive measures in tobacco control to combat consumption and its harms, including reducing exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • Canada's proposal on Article 2.1 of the FCTC was embraced by Committee A! Committee A also approved Article 19 on liability!
  • Committee B made significant strides by approving three pivotal decisions; addressing payments of Assessed Contributions & reducing arrears, reviewing accreditation of NGOs as COP observers, and enhancing synergies between the COP & the WHA.
  • The Orchid Award was handed to the Afro region for 'urging immediate activation of the investment fund given the urgent need for adequate sustainable resources for FCTC implementation.
  • Guatemala was handed the Dirty Ashtray Award

for 'setting a bad example by systematically timewasting and trying to reopen closed agenda items as other parties were advised to take note.

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance was joined by a panel of scientists, tobacco control specialists and global health experts and discussed the precautionary principle that could lead the current direction of COP10 to diminish the strongest strategy of reducing tobacco-related death and disease, Article 1(d).

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